- <b>WACKEN OPEN AIR 2011. FULL REPORT</b> (6-8-2011) - The MetalList Webzine - metal music zine

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Skyline Alan : So this report is from the august days in the kingdom or maybe republic of metal which is located in a village called Wacken in Northern Germany. 80 000 metalheads, hundreds journalits (who are metalheads too exactly), a huge amount of the bands, the oceans of beer, the rivers of Yagermeister and the universe of music. We had arrived to the vip camping area for journalists at the evening of august the 3th. and my great and critical mistake was the intention to buy Wacken T-shirt the next day. Already next afternoon the long walls of them were deserted by the enormous army of people.

Wacken is not only the universe of heavy metal music it is also the unique spirit of the huge community that includes metal fans from all continents (exept maybe Antarctica, i didn't notice even one penguin at the festival area but maybe i had a low experience in searching). Mix of english, german and a lot of other languages, long and short hairs, children and adults, heavy, power, thrash, black, death and some another metal else. Simply W.O.A.

Skyline Maxim : I'd like to describe the territory of festival for them who haven't ever visited it and for them who visited Wacken in the midth of 2000th. It has changed significantly. It took enough time to research the festival area. There were six normal stages and a few more very little stages. Not professional bands played there. Even some spectators tried to play on these stages. So there were 2 main, one side of them party Stage, followed by the 4th stage and in the other territory there are two stages. In my opinion too much. And it turned out between some of the great distance that if you are interested in two groups performing on different stages, it is problematic to see them both. In addition to music and beer of the festival there were other entertainment, such as Viking Village, made in this subject with all kinds of competitions for power, etc. Again, I'm pretty skeptical about this. I was going to a music festival, and it distracts people from the music.

Nowadays more than 80 000 people visit this festival. Generally, in principle, it is incredibly hard to make the festival with such number of people in such circumstances, the organizers have coped as best they could. However, it is very huge amount of people for this territory. On the other hand I should mention one brilliant thing that is done for moving between stages. A little behind the board made a small ditch, some short line, where people do not stay. It's not that people are polite and decide to leave the pass. The fact that there can not see anything, and because there people do not stay there. If it were not so, it would have to make a huge detour from Black Stage to Party Stage and even then, still through the dense crowd.

Alan : Tickets had been already sold out in February. Last years this situation for Wacken Open Air is too typical. Graspop, Metalcamp and Hellfest raised their popularity too. Many people try to visit 2 or even more metal festivals during summer period. There are two causes. First of all – the company and the athmosphere of the festivals, I have already told about this. The second one is the possibility to see some bands that perform only at the festivals. By the way about the line up 2012. The heroes of the first evening were German power metal kings HELLOWEEN and BLIND GUARDIAN. The main headliner was OZZY OSBOURNE. The running order for the second day made you to do the very difficult choice: death metal legends MORBID ANGEL, metalcore monsters AS I LAY DYING and HEAVEN SHALL BURN, TRIPTYKON who replaced CRADLE OF FILTH and also APOCALYPTICA, TRIVIUM, ENSIFERUM, VAN CANTO, PRIMAL FEAR, SIRENIA and a lot of other wonderful bands during 14 hours but of course the main event of that day was JUDAS PRIEST set. In December 2010 The Gods of Metal announced their final world tour called EPITAPH. And the decisive day: SEPULTURA, KREATOR, MAYHEM AND CHILDREN OF BODOM, MOTORHEAD as the main headliner, special show of AVANTASIA feat Michael Kiske, Jorn Lande, Kai Hansen. But in my humble opinion the most interesting event was the incredible and the very last show of ICED EARTH with Matt Barlow as a singer.

Let us finish introduction and begin speaking about bands.

First day. The first band we saw was KVELERTAK(at Bullhead City) - good hardcore / metalcore with a rather stiff, and a bit ringing sounding. But if we wanted this sounding not to be a mush we need a good enough quality of sound, which was not. Energy, material supply - medium, so that eventually appreciate the medium.

Then the main show began at the Black Stage. SKYLINE – is the band of Wacken Open Air organizer, Thomas Jensen, they performed two coversongs of Gary Moore band and some songs dedicated to W.O.A, with guest vocalists: Doro Pesch, Chris Boltendahl and Udo Dirkschneider who visited W.O.A. only for these short perfomances. Also We can see Tom Angelripper who Conversely became a champion of W.O.A. 2011. He performed with SODOM, ONKEL TOM and SKYLINE. Just after opening the festival ONKEL TOM performed at the fifth stage. Very good and funny show. The sound was not the best, the band does not try to play the perfect material, but for the music flow was perfect. Schnaps ... German unanimous chorus sounded awesome.

So the first big performance of that day was HELLOWEEN’s set. It was the wonderwul state of universal excitement but the technology made a very bad joke with the founders of Power Metal. The first song was "Are You Metal". It's difficult to imagine what can be better for opening the huge metal festival. And like a sign of evil two times whole sound system was totally off just before the words "Are You Metal" of the chorus. In spite of this set was the part of "The 7 Sinners tour" it was oriented on Keepers' albums. Beside the first one only Where the Sinners go was from the latest album. "Eagle Fly Free", "March of Time", "I'm Alive" (rare song for the live perfomances of Helloween) as well as "Dr Stein", "I Want Out", long version of "Future World" with the traditional descant with the crowd. But the main event of their one-hour show was the logical medley of three main songs from every "Keeper" - "Keeper of the 7 Keys", "The King for 1000 years" and finally "Halloween". Unfortunatelly some problems with sound were during whole set of HELLOWEEN. At the same time Andi Derris performed himself as a gorgeous frontman and survived the show at a high level.

Just after HELLOWEEN another German power metal legend - Blind Guardian. First time they performed at Wacken in 1992. There is only one another famous band who started with Wacken in the beginning of the 90s, it was SAXON. So for BLIND GUARDIAN it was the fifth performance at Wacken area. And doubtless they were one of the most expected musicians of all three days. For reaching the opposite side of the main field you had to spent not less than 15 minutes. The most interesting moment of this set was the song “Majesty” from the very first band’s album. Another songs were generally predictable – 3 songs from the latest album incl. wonderful Tanelorn, one of the most complicated for vocal. Big festivals - the best way to hear the full power of Hansi Kursch’s voice cause in clubs sometimes he sings an octave lower in comparison with studio versions to protect his cords. By the way it is still strange to watch him with a short haircut. BLIND GUARDIAN, of course, it’s also the wonderful possibility to participate in choral singing during the “Bard’s Song”. Choir of tens of thousands voices sounded absolutely brilliant.

So the first headliner was OZZY OSBOURNE. The first thing Ozzy made with the first sounds of I Don’t Know - he doused front ranks and photographers with soapy water from the hose, it wasn't funny, moreover in relation to the photographers with expensive technique it was just incredible boorishness. Ozzy’s set consisted best of Sabbath and Solo hits. It wasn’t long, additionally at the middle of performance Mr Osbourne left the stage for at least 15 minutes guitar/drums solo. His voice was still unique and unrepeatable, even his condition was not the best for such big events thousands fans were absolutely delighted to see him. Interesting moments – Ozzy played Sabbath’s Rat Salad and his famed Shot in the Dark – last years these songs were too rare in his concerts’ setlists. Another songs were expected such as Iron Man or War Pigs which were performed by whole Wacken audience singing along with Ozzy. Of course Mr Crowley, Bark in The Moon, Road To Nowhere and so on. After the encore he finished first day of the festival performing Mama, I’m Coming Home and Paranoid.

The second day was opened by ENSIFERUM. A good level is normal to wake up at the festival. Almost the similar situation with PRIMAL FEAR, as always powerful and speed set.

After that first scene appeared SUICIDAL TENDECIES. In fact, hard not to acknowledge that they have a great supply, the singer is working properly with the audience and make people feel good. But the music itself is simple to play and in this sense, they did not show anything outstanding.

MORBID ANGEL. Great show. What a pity that problems with sound was exactly on such a great show. And it was not a fault of band. They started with the Immortal rites. In fact this song and the Fall from grace is not sounded very cool. But beginning from Rapture devil remembered that today is a concert of Morbid Angel. Incredible powerful sound and at this level of loudness they managed to play all very skillfully, with something devilish technic, some diabolical playing on guitars. They also played Angels of decease, I am morbid, Chapel of ghouls and Where the slime live. At the end of God of emptiness finally takes you to some diabolical world.

For the final waking up of most Wacken audience was necessary some another powerful impact, so it was SODOM, German thrash metal legends. We had seen them so many times and it’s a fcat theit performances were always the same and this was always… great: the same brilliant, strong, expressive. A lot of bands with 3 guitars ale looked ridiculous in comparison with one Bernemann’s guitar. Onkel Tom gave us the best of SODOM with additional accent on the latest album “In War and Pieces”. Very strange but they didn’t play “Napalm in the Morning”, maybe the main hit of SODOM after 2000.

Furthermore, it was pretty callous performance of AS I LAY DYING. In fact they have an interesting style because of its interesting patches of clean vocals they opened circle pit session that day, another another metalcore band was TRIVIUM. Their set it was interesting enough. Fans of that kind of music treat their performance just brilliant. The band said from stage that such an audience they never had, this is their best performance in their life. HEAVEN SHALL BURN. Nothing especially brilliant in their music, but there is really a unique style, plus a powerful vocal. Markus besides everything is a perfect frontman. Just a good talking to the audience and keeps himself somehow on an equal foot with audience. Looking at their performances seems that the group is always glad to fans and they are greeted warmly and it's mutual. In Germany audience supports them very well. Despite the fact that they play metalcore toughest, thanks to all of this creates a kind of warm atmosphere at their shows. At some moment, Marcus asked to arrange a Circle-pit around the console. It was a real madness. During AS I LAY DYING set there was possibility to see RHAPSODY OF FIRE. Unfortunately, as this famous Italian band is strong in the studio work, creating the conceptual videos and fantasy stories, just as it is completely uninteresting live, especially during open air actions.

JUDAS PRIEST. Almost 130 minutes of brilliant set. Gods of metal performed their program in front of the full area. This tour was announced as the last big World tour of the band. They are playing songs from all albums without exception. Some interesting moments. Diamond and Rust has turned again to medley of slow and quick versions, Breaking the law should be performed by crows not by Rob, but during the first verse there were almost completed silence cause only some people understood the wish of Rob Halford. And of course the most unforgettable was “Blood Red Skies”. Even in the beginning it was some magic feeling the it aroused unique emotions and did that performance never-to-be-forgotten. There is a strong abnormal energy in this great song. By the way Richie Faulkner (who replaced KK Downing due to his activity in Playing golf business during this tour) did his work uncommonly. 21 great songs, a great light, excellent sound, interesting action, it was almost impossible to believe in fact that JUDAS PRIEST began their way in hard rock about 40 years ago. They were still young Gods of Metal.

One of the best bands in evening program could have become a performance Cradle of Filth, but unfortunately their performance is canceled due to illness, Dani. TRYPTIKON replaced them. It is a musical project of Thomas Gabriel Fischer, creator of legendary CELTIC FROST who inspired a lot of European extreme metal bands. But it was not more than unremarkable doom alive. At the third stage at this time were the Stoner legends KYUSS LIVES. It is a kind of music and sound is very original, and original in a good way. Before them there was also an opportunity to see MORGOTH, but generally it wasn’t interesting performance. In discography of MORGOTH 2 EP and 2 LP in death metal genre and one alternative rock album, reunited in 2010 after 12 years of nihility they continued existence as a death metal band.

APOCALYPTICA’s statement concluded day one of the major scenes. A bit boring at the end of the day but at the same time very beautiful colorful and spectacular show.

Just imagine. The third day's morning. You are a bit tired, a bit drunk, a bit something else and suddenly you see some persons on the stage with something like blood over their body. No, No this is not a nightmare, only MOONSORROW play their hymns in finnish at Black metal main stage. The third stage’s program was opened by VISION OF ATLANTIS. They were too pretty on the stage, the duo was nice and bright but the overall impression of their performance was neutral and left no emotion. The next on the True metal main stage were CRASHDIET. Glam metal even glam rock band and moreover this is not the strongest of his representative. In their performance there were nothing interesting, and they look just awful for someone or jyst crazy and funny for another. Maybe about 1.5 thousand people were seeing TRIOSPHERE at W.E.T. stage, young Norway band with interesting and melodic power /progressive metal sound and female lead vocal.

Next act of the main srages - KATAKLYSM. Their live music is really some particular style of music. It may be called Canadian melodic death. This very nice band which plays a pure death in studio, strange way slides into melodic in live performances. At the same time Maurizio Iacono is owner of the best extreme vocals the range of other musicians is also very high. THE HAUNTED were at the Party stage. Very good energetic. And a good level of play. Consequently good mark for show. Peter Dolving, the voice of the band, apparently decided to grow a beard infinitely.

Why thrash/death legends ONSLAUGHT performed at the fifth stage was not very clear. Even more surprising, that there were not so many people. But it demonstrated real attitude of people to thrash metal. Except Big 4, German big 3 and maybe 10 more bands another representatives of this genre are clearly not in the spotlight On the other hand, this not numerous audience accepted them very well. Great music, well played, with some energy eventually developed into an excellent performance.

If the hell exists the sinners are tortured by the live show of DIR EN GREY. High technique, the big experience, different music, unique vocal range - guttural-clean-growl-scream in one breath but the whole impression was terrible.

MAYHEM. Attila was dressed...usually - laeather jacket and without makeup It is in tradition of MAYHEM latest years – different actor and sometimes comical images. Despite the fact that performance was the afternoon, sounded all very atmospheric and a bit gloomy. Properly used the slow moments, as if driven into gloomy state.

ICED EARTH set was one of the most emotional moment is whole Wacken 2011 story. The very last gig with Matt Barlow. Again. Perhaps Shaffer missed about his decision to kick off Ripper many times, maybe he hoped that Barlow had return for ages. But this set was absolutely incredible. Most songs were from the classic The Dark Saga and Something Wicked This Way Comes. Also there were Jack from Horror Show and Last December from Burnt Offerings. Only one song they played from the period of Ripper - Declaration Day, Matt Barlow did some mistakes in high notes but it wasn't so important. The most impressive moment was The Prophecy. It was someting impossible - a huge tear was in Matt voice. After the encore they played Iced Earth, Jon stated the fact that this is the last concert of Matt, who at that moment stood with tears in the eyes.

At that moment there was very exciting situation at the press area. With the participation of the Wacken’s promoters there were announced first acts for the next year: GAMMA RAY, CRADLE OF FILTH, AMON AMARTH, UDO (Anniversary show), HAMMERFALL, MINISTRY and THE SCORPIONS. Just after that Rudolf Schenker came to the press area for brief press conference.

SEPULTURA was gorgeous as always. Old-school sounding, good sound, great playing of music, good vocals. So simply amazing. VREID were at the Party stage it was a present for fans of WINDIR. Vreid - just a group of musicians of WINDIR except vocalist. However, this time, they live to a great extent been able to convey emotion WINDIR music. That performance was extremely catchy. WINDIR played viking metal but in Viking village was something quite the opposite - on a small stage were LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE. They no longer played a harsh doom. The performance was a little melancholic and atmospheric. They rather good drove you into a state of melancholy.

Colorful and varied show of AVANTASIA includes duets with Jorn Lande, Michael Kiske, Kai Hansen, Bob Catley and Amanda Somerville. Last years Tobias Sammet had been trying to overcome the notion of the band as one-time project for metal opera, therefore only three songs of thirteen were from the first part of Opera, no one from the second, the main accent was done on the latest band’s albums. It’s the big issue if it was quietly correctly to state the big power metal act almost at the end of the third day but it was difficult to make any complaints for the performance

Then On the other main stage started to kill KREATOR... to kill with pleasure of course. It was try to estimate the real amount of people but it was quite possible that that it was the maximum. So intro "Choir of the Damned" marked the beginning of the action. Devilish red color, smoke and slow instrumental part of "Hordes of chaos" was replaced by speed and aggressive riffs of the main German Thrash band. Then another song from the latest album - Warcurse. Highlights over Mille's face as if turned him into a demon. By the way it should be noted that Mille and Ralf Scheepers were among the few frontmen who used English out of respect for the guest of festival from another countries. So then was Endless Pain from the very first album. Another hit song of the early KREATOR years - Pleasure to Kill. It seemed like the whole stage was in flames and the huge circle pit added that madness. Then one more song from Hordes - Destroy What Destroys You. The next songs were from the album Enemy of God. One of the most melodic song Voices of the Dead was replaced by speed and cruel Enemy of God. Then the only song which Mille always prefer to perform with the help of audience – brief and simple but at the same time absolute amazing Phobia. Some songs from 2001 - Violent Revolution with Patriarch as intro and another brilliant composition - Reconquering the throne. “Wacken, circle pit, here is Betrayer”, said Mille Petrozza and really the new round of insanity began. Brief encore, in one minute Mille came back with the real banner called “Flag of Hate” and with the medley of Flag and Tormentor finished their set.

At the same time on the fourth stage were HAIL OF BULLETS. No remarkable studio band, but the live performance was amazing. Excellent death metal perfectly played, with excellent sound and excellent vocals. What a pity that they played the same time as Kreator.

Main Stage again. They were MOTORHEAD and they were playing rock’n’roll. The same rock and roll and everything as well. This was not bad. Music still sounded good. Ace of spades and Overkill after the encore, of course, gathered almost full area in front of the stage.

One of the last band on festival was CHILDREN OF BODOM. There was a strong rain but surely thousands of people did not regret that they saw this show even in such conditions. It seemed they played one and a half times faster than on the albums. The result was a very difficult guitar solos, but this was not a big problem for Alexi and company. From a technical point of view, everything sounded great. But it’s better not to say how Alexi talks to the audience - it's just awful. Without exaggeration, every fifth word was fuck. This was is his perpetual manner. But he could give it up for at least such great event.

Then Promoters’ Farewell and thanks and… SUBWAY TO SALLY completed the action late at night.


So some final words. In spite of rain (we should remember one the main slogans of festival – Rain or Shine) it was fantastic event. We would like to express a deep gratitude to the organizers of the festival and personally Britta Kock and Fine Wolff for granted accreditations and wonderful attitude to the press. Also Big Thanks to everyone who worked in press area and helped us for 4 days. And of course thanks to BECK’S for being with and within us all this time.

Text by Alan and Maxim
Photos by Alan

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